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I'm two months into a job as a software developer, building mobile apps. I received a new desktop a few days ago, value around US$1K. Today the company asked me to sign an 'Asset Lending Agreement' (I haven't signed yet). The agreement states that I should compensate the company in case the desktop is lost, damaged or destroyed (not specifically by me). Is this industry standard for software development jobs, or is it unusual?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., ReallyTiredOfThisGame, jcmeloni, jmort253 Jan 24 at 6:02

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Had similar experience with one company - they wanted us to sign for every last cable and thumbdrive, as well as the PC. Were no problems for me there, although some of the smaller items had gone missing months ago. –  Vorac Jan 23 at 13:50
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I actually turned down a job offer because they used similar language about laptops and other mobile equipment. Liability for your own carelessness or negligence is one thing (would you rather pay to replace a laptop you damaged through negligence or get fired for gross misconduct for the same 'offence'?) but this kind of blanket liability is not something I'd personally regard as acceptable. I'm not that wild about this kind of thing period now I think abou tit, but I regard this blanket clause as especially bad. –  RobM Jan 23 at 14:35
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@RobM Couldn't agree more - I don't mind paying for my own mistakes and carelessness, but I'm certainly not taking responsibility for others out of my control. –  Dan Jan 23 at 14:40
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Does this equipment live in company-controlled space or did they provide it so you can work at home? –  Blrfl Jan 23 at 15:37
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"Is this industry standard for software development jobs, or is it unusual?" I've never heard of such a thing (I'm in the US). I wouldn't sign such an agreement. –  Joe Strazzere Jan 23 at 17:28

4 Answers 4

I've been working for over thirty years. I have never seen anything like this, and I have never heard about anything like this, from anyone, until now.

Willful damage and/or destruction of company property has always been recognized as grounds for termination. Ditto theft of company property. They don't need an "Asset Lending Agreement" for that.

Normal wear and tear is normal wear and tear. Like light bulbs, computers fail occasionally. This is a normal cost of doing business, and everyone knows it.

An entry-level software engineer these days starts at $50,000/year. With overhead, he costs the company twice that. Experienced engineers can easily cost a company, all up, $300,000/year. And up from there. Said engineers must do work that brings in typically three times their total cost in revenues, just to make the company break even. An asset that generates $500K/year to $1M/year in revenue is a bit more valuable than a $1000 computer, with a 3-year (or more) usable lifespan. Moreover, if the company is healthy, replacing a $1000 computer every so often has no discernible effect on the company bottom line.

If this was a laptop, I MAYBE could see such an agreement as being reasonable.

Now, if there have been a LOT of losses, they have a security problem, and it needs to be addressed as such, before something a lot more valuable than a commodity PC walks out the door.

Start by asking around your coworkers, and see if anyone else has been asked to sign one of these things. At the same time, run it by your attorney, and get his opinion. Finally, you might want to consider everything else the company has been doing lately, and decide whether it is time for you to get the bleep outta Dodge.

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Very unusual in my experience, and totally unacceptable.

If you cause damage to the company either intentionally or through gross negligence, then you're responsible. No agreement has to be signed for this. If you cause damage accidentally, then you're not responsible and shouldn't sign any paper that says otherwise. Your company seems to want you to pay for damage to that computer even if it isn't your fault whatsoever. If you leave the office at 5pm, your boss leaves 5 minutes later and sees the computer is there, you arrive 8am next morning and your boss arrived 5 minutes earlier and the computer is gone, they want you to pay? That's totally ridiculous.

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As others have said, those terms are peculiar.

All the company asset agreements I've signed have required me to:

  1. Return the property immediately on request of the management, or my salary may be withheld (Don't know if that's legal, but it's never been an issue).
  2. Immediately notify the company if the property is lost, stolen, or damaged.
  3. Provide the company's insurance carrier with all police and incident reports if #2 occurs.

FWIW: I know most homeowner's and renter's insurance policies don't cover business property unless your agent adds an additional rider.

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If you sign that, you should take the computer home every day, because essentially its yours. If you leave it at work and it gets stolen when someone breaks in, you owe them. Tell them you'll sign it if you can get a laptop that you can keep positive control over - i.e. take home every day. It is ridiculous of them to expect you to take responsibility for something that you don't even have access to for 16 hours out of the day - assuming a normal 8 hour workday.

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All the responsibility of ownership, with none of the benefits! –  alroc Jan 23 at 19:55
    
I do not disagree that it is basically yours... the actual ownership is the companies and if you take the desktop home you are liable to be charged with theft... –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Jan 23 at 22:03
    
@Chad You can't be charged with theft if you tell them you're doing it and you bring it back the next day. –  Barry Franklin Jan 24 at 15:56
    
@BarryFranklin - Your answer does not say anything about communicating this with them... –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Jan 24 at 16:14
    
@Chad "Tell them you'll sign it if you can get a laptop that you can keep positive control over - i.e. take home every day" –  Barry Franklin Jan 27 at 13:18

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